PLEASANT HILL -- The College Park High boys basketball team figures to be the underdog in Saturday's CIF Division II state championship game against Redondo Union-Redondo Beach at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.
In other words, nothing's changed.
Since losing in the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section playoffs a month ago, the Falcons, seeded 11th out of 12 Division II teams in Northern California, have enjoyed one of the unlikeliest runs to the title game of any team in the state playoffs this year.
They won four straight playoff contests away from home to get to this point, including a 93-90 overtime victory over No. 1 seed Dublin on March 16 in the Division II Northern California final at Sleep Train Arena.
"There a buzz in the air," College Park coach Craig Battle said. "Everybody keeps reminding me that College Park's never been this far before."
Few people would have envisioned College Park getting this far after it lost eight players to graduation, including Michael and John Daily, who combined for 19 points and nine rebounds a game last season.
This year's Falcons team had just four seniors and no player taller than 6-foot-5.
"If you had told me in November that we'd be playing for a state championship, I would have thought that you were a little crazy," said senior captain Mikey Eggleton, who leads the team with 12.6 points per game. "It's been a wild ride."
But College Park went 21-4 in the
After a first round win over Livermore, though, College Park lost 56-54 to Montgomery-Santa Rosa. That would have meant the end of the Falcons' season in past years. But since three other Northern California Division II teams were pulled up to the new Open Division, College Park was given new life.
The Falcons rallied for a dramatic 55-52 victory at Chico in the first round of the Northern California playoffs. They then won at Mt. Eden (67-59) and St. Francis-Mountain View (85-82) before they took down Dublin.
Now College Park faces Redondo Union, which is riding a 20-game win streak. Guards Ian Fox and Dan Biale combine for 29 points per game and lead an offense that averages about 15 3-point attempts per game.
One online publication has Redondo Union ranked 22nd in California. College Park is 84th.
"This is something very special to get to this point," Battle said. "You just don't get here every year, so we just need to go all out, and focus on what we need to do to get a win."